Hybrid open access journal

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A variation on open-access journals is the hybrid open-access journal. This refers to a journal where only some of the articles are open access. This status typically requires the payment of a publication fee (also called an article processing charge) to the publisher.


See also Category:Hybrid open access journals

The concept was first proposed in 1998 when Thomas Walker suggested that authors could purchase extra visibility at a price.[1] The first journal recognized as using this model was Walker's own Florida Journal of Entomology; it was later extended to the other publications of the Entomological Society of America. The idea was later refined by David Prosser in 2003.[2] in the journal Learned Publishing

Publishers that offer a hybrid open access option often use different names for it. The SHERPA/RoMEO site provides a list of publishers and the names of their options.[3]

Possible effect on subscription prices[edit]

Since one of the proposed sources for the necessary funds for open-access articles might be the library subscription budget, there needs to be a decrease in the subscription cost to the library. Therefore, the article payments must not merely add to the normal subscription cost, but rather reduce the cost. For example, the Open Access Authors Fund of the University of Calgary Library (2009/09) requires that: "To be eligible for funding in this [hybrid open access] category, the publisher must plan to make (in the next subscription year) reductions to the institutional subscription prices based on the number of open-access articles in those journals. To date, the only publishers that have done this are Oxford University Press, which has reduced subscription fees for the hybrid journals in its Oxford Open program,[4] and the American Institute of Physics, which has done the same for its Author Select program.[5] Other publishers may follow this lead in the future".[6] On November 12, 2009, Nature Publishing Group issued a news release on how open access affected its subscription prices.[7]

University funds to support open-access journals[edit]

Some universities have funds designed to pay publication fees of fee-based open-access journals. Of these, some will pay publication fees of hybrid open-access journals. However, policies about such payments differ. The Open Access Directory[8] provides a list of university funds that support open-access journals, and provides information about which funds will pay fees of hybrid open-access journals.[9]

A report on work carried out by the University of Nottingham since 2006 to introduce and manage an institutional open-access fund has been published by Stephen Pinfield in Learned Publishing.[10] In this article, the author comments that: "As publishers’ income has increased from OA [open-access] fees in the hybrid model, there has been little or no let-up in journal subscription inflation, and only a small minority of publishers have yet committed to adjusting their subscription prices as they receive increasing levels of income from OA options."

Advantages and disadvantages[edit]

One of the difficulties with "full" open-access journals, or the subset of them that charge author-side fees, is the difficulty of getting started. The publisher must be ready to take the risk of not having subscription income, in the hope that payments will materialize. But with a hybrid open-access journal, the publisher only provides open access to those articles for which the payment is made. To the extent the plan succeeds, the publisher has an adequate revenue stream from fees. To the extent that it fails, the publisher has an adequate revenue stream from subscriptions.

Advantages and disadvantages to the author[edit]

The author wanting to publish in an open-access journal, is not limited to the relatively small number of "full" open-access journals, but can also choose from the available hybrid open-access journals, which includes journals published by many of the largest academic publishers.

The author must still find the money. Many funding agencies are ready to let authors use grant funds, or apply for supplementary funds, to pay publication fees at open-access journals. (Only a minority of open-access journals charge such fees, but nearly all hybrid open occess journals do so.) So far, the funding agencies that are willing to pay these fees do not distinguish between full and hybrid open-access journals. On October 19, 2009, one such funding agency, the Wellcome Trust, expressed concerns about hybrid open-access fees being paid twice, through subscriptions and through publication fees.[11]


The American Society of Plant Biologists has adopted a unique policy[12] that articles contributed by society members to its journal, Plant Physiology, will be made open access immediately on publication at no additional charge. Non-member authors can receive OA through payment of $1,000, but since membership is only $115/year,[13] it is expected this initiative will boost membership.

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